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Review: gosh!, Canal Cafe Theatre

Above the beautiful Bridge House Pub, Hamish Clayton and Kit Loyd’s gosh! invites us into a classic comedy club arrangement, with chairs grouped around tables for friends to gather. This recognisable set up introduces us to an open, familial atmosphere as we await the show’s start. Less conventional than the seating arrangement is the blended nature of the evening’s entertainment, as gosh! combines stand-up comedy with clowning, sketches, song, and more. This merging of genres is a huge strength of the production. Unlike much stand-up, gosh! commits the entire hour to telling a single tale. This is the story…

Summary

Rating

Good

An hour of laughter, energy, and electric physical comedy.

User Rating: 4.63 ( 11 votes)

Above the beautiful Bridge House Pub, Hamish Clayton and Kit Loyd’s gosh! invites us into a classic comedy club arrangement, with chairs grouped around tables for friends to gather. This recognisable set up introduces us to an open, familial atmosphere as we await the show’s start. Less conventional than the seating arrangement is the blended nature of the evening’s entertainment, as gosh! combines stand-up comedy with clowning, sketches, song, and more.

This merging of genres is a huge strength of the production. Unlike much stand-up, gosh! commits the entire hour to telling a single tale. This is the story of Joe Hayward (Loyd), and his struggles as he tries his hand at comedy in the face of the ‘real world’ and its knockbacks. The narrative is aware of itself and the tropes it explores, and embraces them by subverting audience expectations. When Joe faces the decision of paying a venue a £400 deposit for a comedy show or finally paying that speeding fine, which has coincidentally risen to almost £400, he breaks into a song explicitly about this situation. When he has to deal with his mum’s oddball (ex) boyfriend, we are surprised by moments of tenderness, which, in contrast to Loyd’s eccentric portrayal of Tin (yes, Tin, with an N), are nuanced and entertaining.

Loyd’s performance is compelling throughout. His dynamic facial expressions and excellent physical control deftly navigate the audience from moments of humour to times of sensitivity and sincerity. He injects character into every scene, action, and voiceover. Each character is distinguishable and has an energy to offer the narrative – something which also stems from the quality of humour in the script. Furthermore, Clayton’s strong direction is seen in the show’s purposeful blocking. Loyd’s movements are fluid and intentioned, although there are occasional transitions that might benefit from some variation, as they become slightly repetitive.

The audition scene is particularly magnetic, supported by an energetic and creative use of lighting and sound. These technical elements are well-balanced throughout the performance, ensuring a fullness onstage. Although only Loyd was performing, the space brimmed with energy.

This energy was largely sustained, perhaps dipping only slightly in several moments of narration. The production contains an array of delightful, varied-genre conventions which work best when used consistently. There were some small moments of direct narration that were slightly jarring as they were used few and far between, and were overshadowed by larger, more exciting scenes.

First and foremost a comedy, gosh! did what humour does well, which is finding a way to dissect serious topics. The performance engaged a conversation around the mental wellbeing of comedians and creatives in an industry that offers so much rejection. Each audience member attends a production with their own experience attached to them, just as every performer brings their own experiences to the stage. The line between performer and person in comedy is often blurred, and gosh! plays into this, to tie its narrative together in a satisfying, entertaining, and meaningful conclusion.

Written by: Hamish Clayton and Kit Loyd
Directed by: Hamish Clayton

gosh! plays at Canal Cafe Theatre until 17 May, with a further performance on 24May at The Bill Murray, before an Edinburgh Fringe run this August. More information can be found here.

About Anna Robinson

Anna is a London-based writer and theatre maker. She is the co-founder and artistic director of early career theatre company, ‘Dirty Feet’, who make work that provokes conversation and builds community. Anna loves stories and is never far from a piece of written word - whether that be a script, poem, novel, or her journal.
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